Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Conversation With the President

President of the United States (POTUS): “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.” 

Me: Yes, I remember you saying this about Trayvon. I thought it was a strange thing for you to say then, and I can’t say that I think differently about it now. Why say this, Mr. President? How does identifying yourself with Trayvon—on the sole basis of his blackness—help us? This seems like an emotional statement with no real rational purpose. 

And this I think is part of the problem. Too many folks speak of race in terms which are emotional, not rational. But how can fallacious appeals to pity, or appeals to emotion, stimulate contemplative conversation? When it comes to race we need to speak in terms of fact and reason, not myth and emotion. 

I’m sure you’re correct: the African American community does look at things through a set of experiences. But surely you understand that this is no less true for the white, red, yellow and brown communities as well. We all look at issues through a particular lens. Still, some lenses are more accurate than others. Right? 

You speak of a “history that doesn’t go away.” Have you ever wondered why this is so? Could it be that blacks have listened to the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world for so long that nearly their entire identity is based upon victimization (victimization that happened to people 200 years ago)? 

I realize I’m speaking in generalities (of course, you are too), but I wonder if blacks would have a clue as to who they are as a people if they actually put the past behind them and took responsibility for the condition of the black community today. In other words, what would the black community look like if it had more responsibility and less resentment?  

POTUS: “There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.” 

Me: Sir, why do you think blacks are often followed through stores? Why do you think women are often scared when blacks join them in an elevator? Do these things happen to blacks for no other reason than their blackness? What factors—other than pigmentation—can account for such defensive behaviors? (Please notice, Mr. President, the things you mention are defensive, not offensive, actions.) 

Consider these words from Jesse Jackson: “There is nothing more painful to me at this state in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery—then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” (Pat Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower, p. 244) 

You see, Mr. Jackson knows what we all know: Statistically speaking, we (no matter our color) are much, much more likely to be robbed, raped, or murdered by blacks than whites.** The fact is, Mr. President, blacks are only 13 percent of our population but they commit around 53 percent of our country's murders! They commit about 75 percent of violent crimes in New York City.  

It seems to me that Mr. Jackson’s relief and our defensive maneuverings—when encountering unknown blacks—are rational, not racist. To ignore the statistics is not noble. It’s naïve.   

So, Mr. President, who’s to blame for blacks’ negative experiences: blacks (statistically the folks committing the crimes) or non-blacks (statistically the folks falling victim to the crimes)? Resenting non-blacks (rather than blacks) for the way blacks are perceived seems to be misguided at best. Respectfully, Sir, let’s put the onus where it belongs. 

POTUS: “I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.” 

Me: Exactly! Yes, you see my point. We all know the statistics. Just as Trayvon was statistically more likely to be killed by a black, so are all of us.** Point of fact: Since Trayvon’s death 11,000 blacks have been murdered in America by other blacks.  

At what point do blacks cease blaming whites for the implosion of the black community? 

POTUS: “I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?”   

Absolutely! If George Zimmerman had broken Trayvon’s nose and was pounding Trayvon’s head into the sidewalk; I would defend Trayvon’s right to defend himself with whatever means he could muster. I can’t imagine why anyone would think—or do—otherwise.  

POTUS: “I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.”   

Me: Well, this is undoubtedly true, to an extent. How else could you be President? Clearly, the fact that an African American is President shows that at least one segment of our society has changed its views on race. I’m talking about whites, of course. 

Our white forebears would never have dreamed we’d have a black President. And yet, here you are! You, Mr. President, are incontrovertible proof that whites have changed their racial views. 

But what evidence convincingly demonstrates that blacks have changed their racial views? Do you have any evidence of blacks progressing in their prejudices? Or, are they—like you said—stuck in a history that won’t go away? 


A full transcript of the President’s remarks can be seen here.

**Subsequent to publishing, I have learned that though blacks commit a disproportionate amount of violent crimes, more whites are in fact killed by other whites than by blacks.  

Nevertheless, when it comes to interracial violent crimes the disparity is shocking. “Blacks committed 433,934 violent crimes against whites, eight times as many as the 55,685 that whites committed against blacks. Interracial rape is almost exclusively black-on-white, with 14,000 assaults on white women by African America males in 2007. Not one case of white sexual assault on a black female was found in the FBI study.” (Pat Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower, p. 243)


  1. Your article was interesting up to the end where you ask if there is any evidence blacks are progressing in their prejudices? Or, are we stuck in a history that won't go away. So, everything would be great if blacks would stop being racist? is that the point? Since whites are no longer, if they every were? is that the point?

    1. Q: "So, everything would be great if blacks would stop being racist? is that the point?"

      A: No.

      Q: "Since whites are no longer, if they every were? is that the point?"

      A: No.

  2. There is plenty of evidence that informed blacks are more accepting and far less apt to be racist that those who are anti-christian,liberal and socialist in their world view. Shamefully far too many blacks base their opinions on the views of race baiters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jacksons who are the true racist and the problem is....they can't see it.

    1. Indeed.

      Thank you for reading and thinking.